Review – A MONTH IN THAILAND (“O luna in Thailanda,” Paul Negoescu, 2012, Romania)

MonthInThailandposterThe press-kit of A Month in Thailand proudly states that this is “most likely the Romanian feature with the youngest cast and crew in the history of post-communist Romanian cinema.” Its director Paul Negoescu, here on his feature debut, complements this statement by claiming that this is “a film about my generation.” He also offers a description of his “confused generation”: “people my age [late 20s/early 30s] nowadays tend to be more superficial regarding their love life and tend not to pay any attention to their own feelings.” Despite this statement, his protagonist Radu (Andrei Mateiu) seems to only care about his own feelings, breaking up with his girlfriend Adina (Ioana Anastasia Anton) in the midst of New Year’s Eve celebrations and spending the rest of his night in search of his ex-girlfriend Nadia (Sinisiana Nicola), believing her to be “the one that got away.”

It doesn’t take much to understand the meaning of the Nadia/Adina anagram, a symbol of the Lacanian statement that “desire is desire for desire.” Throughout the movie, Radu looks and behaves like a victim, perhaps feeling a legitiamate sense of unhappiness originating from a feeling of emptiness, a void that will never be filled. On the other hand, women are portrayed as submissive and servile, existing as nothing more than the object of male desire. This is not only seen through Radu’s Nadia/Adina complex, but also by the fact that he turns down two other girls over the course of the night – both attracted to him but not desired by him (at least not momentarily). Furthermore, one of these women tells him her pathetic story of leaving for Spain to be with her lover and ending up feeling miserable as a result. Earlier in the movie, Adina also admitted to turning down an exciting scholarship abroad for fear of losing her ex-boyfriend.

At surface-level, its quite easy to see A Month in Thailand as an incarnation of the male gaze, looking at the world from a masculine point of view. By looking at Negoescu’s film this way, we may see its realist style as part of a process of legitimization of this point of view. However, it’s hard to overlook the feeling of lack of the movie. Despite the darkly comic vibes of the film, which is categorized by its makers as a comedy, none of the characters are happy, and there is little to imply that they ever will be. The bitter, ironic, and somewhat predictable ending implies that a change in the politics of inter-relationships is needed in order for happiness to be achieved. Though often over-simplified, the film exposes the pre-ordained order of things as they are and supports the Lacanian theories on desire, which, despite what Negoescu says, are not restricted to his generation or any generation. – ★★★

O LUNA IN THAILANDA || 2012, Romania || Comedy || Directed by – Paul Negoescu / Written by – Vlad Trandafir, Paul Negoescu / Produced by – Gabi Antal, Ada Solomon, Smaranda Sterian / Music by – Codrin Lazar / Cinematography by – Andrei Butica / Editing by – Alexandru Radu / Starring – Andrei Mateiu, Ioana Anastasia Anton, Sinziana Nicola / Running time: 84 mins.

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